Global Ghost Gear Initiative

Valpak is proud to have joined such an important alliance and looks forward to being able to contribute to the GGGI’s goals

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) is a unique cross-sectoral alliance committed to finding ways to prevent or mitigate the impact of lost or discarded fishing equipment – also knows as “Ghost Gear” – worldwide.

Fishing Net Caught on Coral
Fishing Gear
Coral Reef

The problem

Marine debris and plastic is on the rise, and has rightly garnered a huge amount of press coverage in recent years. It is estimated that 19-23 million tonnes of debris entered the ocean in 2016 and this could rise to 53 million tonnes a year by 2030! Whilst all marine debris has the potential to entangle or trap wildlife, not all marine debris is equal; Fishing gear is designed to catch and trap, and so when it is lost and becomes “ghost gear”, it can be particularly harmful.

A 2009 study suggests that up to 10% of all the plastic in our oceans is ghost gear, but it represents a much higher proportion of large plastic found floating on the surface. During the Henderson Island Expedition, ghost gear accounted for 60% of all items when weighed, and recent research suggests that once it breaks down it leads to increased levels of micro and nano plastics in the environment.

The oceans are an important resource. They provide the primary source of protein for up to 4 billion people and it is estimated that 350 million jobs are linked to the oceans globally. Ghost gear competes with fishers for their catch. Simply put, the more ghost gear there is the fewer fish there are for everyone else.

Campaign aims

The GGGI is a global alliance consisting of fishers, governments, universities, NGOs and private companies such as retailers and recyclers. There are three key aims:

  • To improve the health of marine ecosystems
  • To safeguard human health and livelihoods
  • To protect marine life from harm

The GGGI works on both globally and locally across three areas to build evidence, define best practice and inform policy, and catalyse and replicate solutions.

Solving the issue of ghost gear requires a global, cross-sectoral approach, and providing viable pathways for fishers to responsibly dispose of their end-of-life gear is a crucial piece of the puzzle. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs are being explored as one potential solution for end-of-life gear, and Valpak’s considerable expertise in this space is invaluable to the conversation around EPR for fishing gear. We’re delighted to have Valpak as a member of the GGGI as we continue t

Joel Baziuk, Associate Director – Global Ghost Gear Initiative